A dozen years have elapsed since the residents of Gin Gin and Kolan Shire put their faith in a new banking model that was quite different from accepted and traditional banking methods.
Gin Gin Community Bank was born at a time when Gin Gin’s major bank branch decided to close its operation leaving the community without a recognized face-to-face financial institution.
Enter the community bank model backed by the long-established Bendigo Bank.
Twelve years later and the bank has lived up to its mantle as a bank delivering profits to the community with more than $1.5 million handed back to local not-for-profit clubs and community organisations.
Susan Bengtson, the Community Bank’s treasurer says the community bank model is markedly different from traditional banking operations although it offers similar services.
“The big difference is we have a policy that requires we return 20 per cent of profits to shareholders and the remaining 80 per cent to be invested in community projects.
“Gin Gin Community Bank is overseen by a board of directors. I think over the past 12 years we have established confidence and trust in the community regarding the privacy of their banking transactions. Quite simply our directors are not privy to customers information,” said Susan.
She said the bank currently has the latest round of community grant applications open and is inviting not-for-profit groups from Gin Gin, Mt Perry, Biggenden and Childers to lodge their applications for support for their community projects.
“We have really enjoyed investing back into the community and seeing local groups being able to achieve their goals through their partnership with Gin Gin Community Bank,” said Susan.
She reminded organisations that applications for grants close on October 22.
“The $1.5 million we have distributed has really helped many local organisations. This year we held a presentation where 25 community groups shared in $155,643.
“We are also involved with an agency in Childers and I am happy to report we have been able to assist a current makeover of the Isis Memorial Swimming Pool with a $100,000 grant.”
“It is important for customers to realise that it is only a community bank like ours that returns profits to its community. We have a staff of ten here in Gin Gin and our aim is to continue the expansion of the bank and maintain that partnership we have established with our community.”
Susan said the bank was on the cusp of further development which would also provide not only more space for the bank but also develop a community hub which could provide space for professional services to visit Gin Gin.
“Services like physiotherapy or surveyors could be utilised within our hub space which certainly would benefit our residents and save trips to major centres. Plans are being developed and we hope to proceed with construction soon.”